The most common succulents
Succulent plants, widespread throughout the world, are characterized by a more or less high thickness and fleshiness of stems and leaves. Regardless of the appearance, the internal structure of this type of plants is designed to retain water. The varieties are very many, and among the most cultivated and common are the cactus, the agave and the aloe. The cactus, which is probably the best-known succulent plant, belongs to the succulent family. It adapts perfectly to all climates, both to those that are more dry than to those that are more hot. Cacti are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from those that develop vertically to an important extent, up to dwarf varieties. The plant has a central stem from which radiant tips and flowers develop, which open at night to prevent drying due to heat. The agave is known for the legend of its centennial flowering. In reality, if proper treatment is ensured, it can also flower every fifteen or twenty years. Very common in Italy, the agave is available in a large number of varieties including the blue one, which is used to make Tequila. Finally, aloe, a native of Africa, has spread so exponentially that it is found in homes all over the world, also due to its beneficial disinfectant and anti-inflammatory medicinal properties. The plant has thick, pointed leaves that radiate from the stem to the external parts. Whatever the species in question, it is essential to provide the most suitable treatments for succulent plants, so that they live well and for a long time in every type of domestic setting and garden.
How to plant succulents
After choosing the container or the area of the garden, the soil must be prepared, mixing a part of earth and one of sand, in equal quantities. It will therefore be necessary to dig a not very deep hole, equal to about a quarter of the overall height of the plant. After having inserted it in the hole, it will be covered with earth, crushing it well above all in the area adjacent to the root system. Finally, the planting operation will be completed by lightly wetting the soil, to make it take root at its best.
How to grow succulent plants
Whatever type of succulent plants you intend to grow, it is important to know that they all have different characteristics in common. They originate from areas with arid climates, which is why they have developed suitable structures capable of retaining humidity. All succulents are designed so that the main structure is also optimal for photosynthesis, which serves to transform sunlight into valuable nutrients. Generally, succulents are quite simple to grow. However, it must be ensured that they receive the right amount of light and solar heat. The soil must be poorly drained and predominantly sandy, whether the plant is in pot or in the open ground. If the succulent plant is to be placed in a landscaped garden, you should opt for an area that is well exposed to direct sunlight. If instead you want to place them at home, the best choice is to place them near windows or French windows, avoiding those that are too exposed to the sun because glass, by enhancing the action of sunlight, could damage their structure. These plants also need sufficient ventilation. For example, you can place succulents in the bathroom, where there is high humidity, and in rooms where the windows are often left open. For an outdoor garden, on the other hand, they should be planted in areas that are not suffocated by other plant elements, so that they can develop in full freedom. The soil must be sandy and porous, thus avoiding the addition of humus or organic fertilizer. If you plant them in pots, it is better to choose an earthenware container, as it dries the soil better. If instead you plant directly in the ground, you will have to be careful to let it dry completely between one watering and the next. However, attention must be paid to the appearance of the leaves: if these become pale or crumpled, it means that, on the contrary, the water supplied has not been sufficient, and therefore will proceed accordingly, increasing the number of waterings.
Cultivation of succulent plants: Pruning and propagation
Succulent plants, although they are easy to maintain, need proper care, including pruning. To proceed, gently grasp the upper part of the stem with one hand, and with the other cut the dried or ruined sections, keeping as close as possible to the line of the earth, with a firm movement. Care should be taken to maintain the original shape of the plant, without distorting it. Pruning should be done once a year, preferably at the beginning of the winter season. Succulent plants propagate by cross-pollination and cuttings, however the most suitable method is the second. At the end of winter, two or three branches must be cut from the plant and then immersed in a basin of water, until the roots have sprung up. At this point, the cuttings will be transplanted into a clay pot filled with earth and sand throughout the cold season. At the beginning of spring, therefore, these seedlings will move to their final location, so that they can grow in all their beauty.